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The impact of the cochlear implant on people's lives
After the operation
The role of the audiologist
Responses to receiving an implant

Cochlear - MAIN

After the operation
After the operation to implant the internal parts of the system the external parts have to be fitted. Once the implant system is turned on, the brain is able to interpret sound. However, if the person has been deaf for a long time, or is a child who has not learnt to speak, they may find it difficult to understand the sounds that their brain is receiving. The recipient will need an audiologist to assist them in recognising sounds around them.

The cochlear implant enables the recipient to recognise and understand speech and many are able to use the telephone. Some people have to use lip reading to assist in their understanding. The implant has been used by children as young as 14 months to adults 80 years old. Each recipient has a different level of success. The implant is most successful for adults who have developed a hearing loss. Studies show that they are able to recognise 80% of speech without lip reading. It is much more difficult for people who have been deaf since birth. They have to learn the association of words and sounds, which can be difficult when they have never heard them before.

The role of the audiologist
An audiologist must spend many hours with each implant recipient, assessing the patient before the operation, customising the speech processor afterwards and training the recipient in its use.


Rod Saunders
Rod Saunders, the first person to receive a Cochlear implant, with his audiologist. (Cochlear Pty Ltd)

One of the innovative features of the Cochlear implant system is the distribution.

Paul Trainor, leader of the team at Cochlear that designed and manufactured the Mini System 22 decided that the implant should be distributed and sold through special clinics. Audiologists, surgeons, engineers, psychologists, experienced implant users and teachers are available at these clinics to provide the high standards of service and care needed to help the new implant user. (Renew, 1993: 99)

Responses to receiving an implant
Just as the effect for each person is unique, so too, are their responses to having the implant.

Sue Walters has a cochlear implant.

…once you've been a hearing person, you'd really love to have your hearing back …and the implant is about the closest that we've come so far. People who have residual hearing can use hearing aids and hear quite well with them. But for someone who's profoundly deaf like myself, there's no other alternative. So I'd much prefer to have the implant... than nothing at all. (Powerhouse Museum)
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For further responses from implantees:
Rob Kilgore, an American, received his cochlear implant in the early 1980s. Here is the story he told in 1993 to a gathering in honour of Australian scientist Professor Graeme Clark.

The Cochlear Nucleus family

Click here for comments from parents of children with a cochlear implant.

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